FOLLOWING three consecutive months of increases, Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell in February by a sharp 9.7 per cent year on year.
This was due to contractions in both the electronic and non-electronic exports, which declined by 12.5 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively.
Here's what private-sector economists had to say about the poorer-than-anticipated showing:
OCBC economist Selena Ling said February's NODX performance was "significantly worse than expected:" (This) is the weakest year-on-year and month-on-month (-9.4 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms) performance since February 2013 and March 2012 respectively.
"Six of the top 10 NODX markets saw a decline in February, led by China (-22.7 per cent), Japan (-24.6 per cent) and Taiwan (-22.3 per cent). This suggests some downside risks to our 0-2 per cent full-year NODX forecasts should March data continue to disappoint as well."
Noting how exports "remain patchy", Nomura's Euben Paracuelles and Brian Tan said: "Taking January and February together, NODX growth fell to -2.4 per cent year-on-year from 2.3 per cent in December, which suggests exports remain patchy.
"Overall, average January and February seasonally adjusted NODX levels are 2.8 per cent below the average in Q4 2014, which is consistent with our view that manufacturing activity is soft but not collapsing. We maintain our 2015 GDP growth forecast at 2.7 per cent, in line with the official forecast range of 2-4 per cent and the government's expectations of a choppy GDP growth path this year."
Earlier, DBS economist Irvin Seah had said that February's NODX figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, because "the data will be heavily distorted by seasonal, base, and currency effects".